Friday, January 27, 2006

Changing Times

This clip sums up cricket, Martyn get castled off a ripper of a delivery from Murali. Last season though Martyn was the prime reason behind the Aussies conquering the "final frontier" India and the Lankans as well.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

My Way

The title aptly sums up Jaisimhas cricket. Just finished reading his biography. Its a good gripping read, though I feel that there could have been a bit more on the cricketing front and less on the life outside the field that he led. But definitely worth a buy if you are a fan of him like me. And at 100/- its pretty cheap. Some of the stories in the book are too good to be true. The one about where Laxman first sees Jaisimha recounted in the first page of the book gives one goose bumps.

In fact the reason why he did not play more than he did is also apparent from the book, with his no-nonsense attitude towards the selctors. About how selectors would tinker with the Indian teams composition and actually pick an inferior team just because one particular player did not feed enough fuel to their already bloated egos.

The best lines in the book are when an upcoming young batsman asks Jai about his batting, and Jai says "You lack style, boy". Upon which our tyro proceeds to ask him "And how can I become a stylish player ? " to which Jai in his inimitable style replies "Just try touching Salim Durrani, maybe some of his style might rub off on you!!!". I guess watching Azhar and Laxman bat in full flow, we all know where the inspiration for their styles came from.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Cairns retires

Chris Cairns has decided to retire from international cricket with his last match being the one against the Windies in a 20-20 encounter.

Dont think too many people would pick him in a 90's XI or would call him their favourite player, but he was a unique player. Probably was the most under performing player of the 90's after Carl Hooper (I was a great fan of Hoopers perfectly balanced stance). When I was growing up he was probably the one guy who held my fascination for the single reason that he hit a six with the bottom hand off the bat against the Aussies on one of their grounds which by the way are pretty big.

In an era where cricketers in the name of "being professional" have become more and more uninteresting on and off the field, it was not the case with Cairns. You could always sense the change in the atmosphere when he would walk out to bat. His performance in the 1999-2000 season made him the Wisden cricketer of the year.

And no Indian could forget the century he scored in Nairobi that season to win the ICC champions trophy for the Kiwis, a brutal straight six off Anil Kumble standing out in my memory.

And the sad part is we might not see a player like Cairns again.....

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Preview

India take on Pakistan at Lahore starting on Friday. The first two series have had their share of ups and downs. This time around Pakistan led by Bob Woolmer are a much tougher side and on the upswing with their series win against the English. India on the other hand have just won a series against the Lankans.

The bowling attack of Pakistan has a nice balanced look to it. Akhtar, Sami and Rana make up a formidable pace battery. Rana is your typical swing bowler who will make full use of any juice in the pitch on the other hand Akhtar and Sami will be pacy and their ability to reverse the ball is good as well. Akhtars slower ball has also fetched him lots of wickets against the English. The pace department is well placed to bowl on any sort of track. The spinners are led by Danish Kaneria, who was very impressive in India. Afridi might also bowl if he plays and his pace is well suited for the slower sub continental tracks. Malik and Arshad Khan provide the off spinning options but theres the big question mark over whether they will find a place in the 11 at all.

On the other hand Indias spin bowling is well stocked with Kumble and Harbhajan masters of their art. The pacers are the worry, Pathan is yet to have a bad series, so will be interesting to see how he copes with one. Agarkar, Khan and RP Singh are not bowlers who will make any of the Pakistani batsmen loose sleep. So a lot depends on Bhajji and Kumble for India.

The Pakistani batting is going to be their weaker link, while Yusuf, Inzy, Younis Khan, Butt and Akmal pick themselves, the other 2 slots are going to be a toss up between Farhat, Razzaq, Afridi and Malik. With the pitch supposed to be flat Farhat and Afridi might just get the nod. Inzy is going to be the key and his battle with Kumble will be the most fascinating in the series. But no less interesting than the way Yusuf will play Pathan who last time around would have his head falling over a la tilted smiling Preity Zinta . Apart from Inzy and to an extent Butt none of the other batsmen have the right technique to play accurate swing bowlers, so the Indians should not allow these players to settle down.

The Indian batting looks strong on paper but on recent form most of the batsmen are struggling. Sehwag hasnt scored a 50 in a long time, Dravid is still not back to the form he had in 2003-04, while Sachin is no longer his usual older fluent self. Also who will open with Sehwag and who will be at #6 Yuvraj/Ganguly ? While I would like to play both with Yuvraj opening and Ganguly filling up the third seamers slot, I dont thing there will be such a drastic change in the line up. Lot of responsibility lies on Dravids shoulders.

With Pakistan looking the more settled side and having a shade better bowling attack they will be tipped to hold the upper hand, but all that can change in a session of Sehwag induced brilliance. All in all a great contest in the offing.